Nike Zoom Wildhorse trail shoes- REVIEW

This is a first impressions review because I only ran 6 or 7 miles in these over two separate runs.

I got these to counter my minimalist trail running shoes so that my achilles, calves and arches can rest a bit. (Side note: you should really be careful not to push yourself too hard/long in minimalist shoes or you can injure yourself!) The Nike Wildhorse shoes are much more supportive and cushioned than the New Balance 00, 10, and 20 series shoes, and certainly more supportive than my Mizuno Evo Feruses , but not as supportive as the really heavy trail running shoes like the ones from the Salomon brand (e.g. these ).

Out of the box, they felt narrow at the base of the toes. Nikes have a tendency to be more narrow than other brands. However, their minimalist shoes like the Free 3.0 and even Free 5.0 do not seem follow this tendency. The Wildhorses were narrow, though, to the point that I felt the need to stuff the toe box with some golf balls, particularly where the first metatarsal (big toe) joint is. This helped a lot and I felt confident enough in the fit to take them for a trail run.

First impressions: cushy! The heel and forefoot are nice and squishy, despite the lugs. They are very sole-heavy– the top material is a light mesh like the Free shoes, but the midsole and sole are very solid and stable. This is pretty  much what I was looking for. The lace fit is such that it is nice and tight in the middle of the foot across the top, but not very tight closer to the ankle or near the toes. As such, my heel doesn’t seem as secure as in some of my other shoes and the front of the foot feels more “slidey” as well. Mind you, this is not grotesquely so…I am just trying to be as thorough as possible in my report! This fit (or lack thereof) really isn’t because I wasn’t tightening the laces enough- I tried tightening in various ways and just couldn’t get a sweet spot between uncomfortably tight and too loose.

In my warm up walk up the trail, the shoes felt reallllly comfortable. However, the lack of foot hugging meant less stability running up/down the rocky trail. On steeper descents, it definitely seemed like my foot was sliding towards the front, which would mean angry toes and toenails after a while. I also felt my ankles and lower leg muscles having to compensate for the heel movements to keep my feet stable on the terrain. It seemed like more work to keep stable, but in return I got extra bounce and momentum from the cushioned sole.

The lugs are fantastic. I felt very gripped on a variety of surfaces, even somewhat slick, mossy boulders. The side to side flex of the last is wonderful. The laces never came undone, which is very important in sketchy trail running!

I decided to take the insole out and compare with the Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus and Brooks PureDrift insoles. You can see that the Nike Wildhorse (leftmost insole in the photo) is the most narrow. Despite the pronounced arch component, the thin insole doesn’t provide much arch support. Interestingly, the Mizunos felt the most supportive in the arches because the middle of the insole was raised like a speed bump from the outside (pinky toe) to the inside (big toe) edge along the arch.

Overall, I don’t think these fit my needs for nimble, stable trail running. These would be just fine for more casual trails (flatter terrain without really zigzagged, narrow paths) and casual road wear. I think this is a better fit for people with narrower feet and longer toes who wear relatively thick socks. I have a pretty skinny heel so the average person might not have the same heel slip feeling. IMG_8861 IMG_4962 IMG_7584 IMG_2044 IMG_2682 IMG_8529 IMG_8645

Brooks PureDrift REVIEW

My Ronald McDonald shoes! Here is a review after approximately 35 miles of road running.

My partner teased me about the wide toe box of the shoes and called them Ronald McDonald shoes, but I don’t think they look that bad. I bought these specifically seeking a really wide toe box, so at least I got what I wanted!

I tend to wear minimalist type shoes like the New Balance Minimus Trail Zero, so the PureDrifts were pleasantly cushy out of the box. They feel squishy and supportive, but not bulky. They almost make you prance a bit in celebration. The profile of the shoe is a bit rockered with the toe part curling up. This added to the “I want to move” feeling after putting these shoes on, as though they weren’t designed for you to just stand statuesquely still.

The burrito tongue flap is really comfortable. It hugs the top of my foot beautifully. The laces are rarely adjusted–I just slip out of the shoe with the laces still tied, and need to untie the bow (but not pull out any more of the lacing) to get my foot back in. The laces are a tad long and make for extra large ribbon bows, but this is a negligible con.

This shoe doesn’t have a whole lot of arch support, even though the inner lining looks very arch-supportive. It doesn’t feel deficient in this regard, just mildly supportive.

I got these to replace my work out Nike Free 5.0s which were equally cushy and flexible. The Nike’s felt much steeper in the heel-toe drop, and had a narrower toe box, though not uncomfortable. In comparison, however, the PureDrifts feel nice and flat and with a very unstructured toe area. There is ample room for the toes to spread apart as well as up.

My only gripe with these is the hot spot I got under my right big toe after mile 3 or so. It might have to do with the assembly/stitching of the inside, but I haven’t been able to fix that problem. For this reason, I would argue that these shoes are fantastic for walking/casual wear. If I didn’t get the hot spot, I would highly  recommend these for road running.

Feel free to reference my foot measurements to gauge how my experience might stack up against yours. IMG_0620 IMG_0621 IMG_0622 IMG_0605 IMG_0624

My feet physiology to help you interpret my shoe reviews

It’s hard to use my running shoe experience to predict your experience without a bit of quantitative reference points. I am including some measurements of my feet while standing up (weight on feet).

I didn’t measure my arch in the second photo, but I hope you can use it as a visual reference. I would describe myself as having average arches but when I take the footprint test or see my footprints in the sand, it would seem that I have high arches.

I run without over-pronating or under-pronating–the wear of my shoes says that I roll from the middle/slightly outside of my heels and then take off with my big toe. This was not always the case, which I will describe in further detail at the end of the post for those who are interested.

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As I mentioned above, my gait has changed a bit in the past two years. I used to under-pronate, walking on the outsides of my feet. My shoes always showed wear along the outside of the soles. Two years ago, I began to address this as well as my mild bunion. I consciously tried to strengthen my feet and simultaneously loosen my legs, hips and glutes so as to “stack” my legs as straight as possible. I worked on increasing toe splay with gel inserts and by wearing Vibrams around the house. With the foot tendons more flexible, I then began to try and strengthen the different foot muscles, training my toes to spread away from the center of the foot. I used to get cramps in my arches a lot during these exercises, which I think indicated weaker adductor muscles for my big toe.

Really important in my work towards healthy foot/ankle/leg alignment was stretching. I stretched my feet a lot but also my hip flexors and glutes. Having a tight piriformis makes me walk duck-footed, with my toes pointing outward, and I can tell I need to stretch out my glutes when I walk down the stairs this way. A lot of the lower body muscles are thick and run deep, and benefit from deeper muscle releasing apart from the usual stretching. I use foam rollers and baseballs to pin a deep knot while I stretch the muscle until I feel the knot release, or at least feel much looser. For those of you who want to address your gait, I would recommend focusing on obtaining and maintaining relaxed achilles/calf muscles, hip flexors, IT bands, gluteus medius, and piriformis muscles.